What’s in a name?
In the case of the fire district serving Enumclaw and its rural environs, a few simple words can seemingly provide some clarity, a sense of familiarity and a link to history.
Now in the King County pipeline is a plan that would change the name of King County Fire District 28 to the Enumclaw Fire Department. The plan was forwarded Jan. 17 to members of the Metropolitan King County Council, who are expected to take final action soon.
The move to change the name of the department started locally and landed in the lap of the County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. That group offered a “do pass” recommendation and tossed the issue to the full council.
The proposed name change is supported at fire district headquarters.
“A large percentage of voters in and around Enumclaw think of Fire District 28 as the Enumclaw Fire Department,” said Stan McCall, who chairs the district’s board of commissioners. “This name change is important in order to avoid confusion and to get back to our roots as a community.”
District 28 Chief Randy Fehr agrees.
“In an emergency there shouldn’t be any confusion about who to call for help,” he said. “Changing our name… to the Enumclaw Fire Department will hopefully help people who identify as being from Enumclaw to know we’re their local fire district.”
Organized fire protection has a long history in the Enumclaw community, both inside the city limits and in surrounding areas.
In 1903, the Enumclaw Fire Department was founded after a large fire destroyed a number of homes and businesses in the community. In the mid-1940s, the rural fire district was created. Eventually, the city department and District 28 shared operations, with both city and county residents footing the bill for fire protection and emergency medical response. While the city was charged with running the administrative side of things, a three-member board of commissioners watched out for the rural interests.
A major shift came in 2011, when voters in both jurisdictions authorized the annexation of the city into Fire District 28. With that, the name — Enumclaw Fire Department — was formally retired.
Today, the district continues to operate out of the city-owned station on Wells Street, just as it has for years.
The legislation proposing the name change was sponsored by King County Councilmen Reagan Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer. Dunn serves the council district that includes Enumclaw, while much of von Reichbauer’s turf is among the 80 square miles of unincorporated land served by the fire district.
“Enumclaw is more than just the city of Enumclaw,” Dunn said. “Residents on the Enumclaw Plateau as well as the city of Enumclaw say they’re from Enumclaw. This name change not only has practical value in reducing confusion but also better suits the community’s identity.”
There are 165 fire departments that serve the 33 fire districts throughout King County. The state allows for a name change if the proper steps are taken: first, a local fire board must propose the change and, second, it is approved by the legislative authority of the county.